Tag: "Anthony Bourdain"

Anthony Bourdain, TV, food, and travel

A friend of mine in the food business recently asked me my opinion on Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown.

It’s a show I’ve watched, but not watched recently. After my friend told me what a fan he was of the show, I may have to check it out again. Being in the food business, he relates to it a lot more than most. However, he thinks most traveler would enjoy the show.

Bourdain seems to lean towards the far east and he sprinkles culture into it. Like the fact that he does not go to a country and go right to the five star locations that are not indicative of what the regular folks in that country would experience. He eats a lot of “street food” which also infuses more culture.

So if you’re looking for a show with food, wine, history, culture, and politics, Parts Unknown might be substantive enough for you. The show is well produced as well.

The only criticism I have heard is that Bourdain may be taking himself to seriously in his more recent work. Another friend of mine thinks that the guy who wrote Kitchen Confidential would recoil at some of the self-indulgent sequences in the later episodes of No Reservations and Parts Unknown.

What to you all think about Anthony Bourdain’s travel shows?

Anthony Bourdain fighting the Travel Channel

Not too long ago I talked about Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations Collection 7. Today I happened to be scanning the news and his name popped up again. Seems he’s mad at the Travel Channel. I’ll give you my summary below, but if you want to hear it straight from Mr. Bourdain, visit his Tumblr page and find the “fighting mad” headline.

My little summary: Anthony Bourdain says he tries not to endorse products because he wants to say what he thinks and he wants people to believe him when he does. He did once take money from a credit card company and he got a car from BMW in exchange for driving one of their products but otherwise he’s pure. Until now.

Travel Channel took some Bourdain footage and turned it into a Cadillac commercial. According the the No Reservations writer, executive producer, and star, his contract does not allow that sort of thing to be done without his permission.

What I find slightly more interesting than the public relations and presumably legal battle over whether the Travel Channel should have used Mr. Bourdain’s image to make a commercial without asking him, is what he has to say about the Travel Channel’s new management. Considering that we were asking years ago why there were so few travel shows on the Travel Channel, hearing their star say they have been getting worse over the past year or two is cause to abandon hope. And that’s what he says – things are taking a turn for the worse over at travel Channel management.

Review: Anthony Bourdain DVD set – No Reservations Collection 7

This is a 3 DVD set, with each DVD consisting of 5 travel shows. Disc 1 has Haiti, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Vienna, & the Ozarks. Disc 2 has Brazil (the Amazon), Boston, Japan (Hokkaido), Cuba, & Macau. Disc 3 has Naples, El Bulli, Ukraine, Kurdistan, & Cajun Country.

There’s a lot of content here, and a lot of it covers places that aren’t real high on my list. In some cases it seems like hard travel (Haiti) and in some cases it seems like it would be pretty hard to get to know the locals on a quick visit (the Ozarks). And then there’s stuff that’s too far away (Macau) and stuff I’ve never heard of (El Bulli). I have actually been to Boston, and I’ve at least mentioned Cambodia and Vienna on this blog. But most of these travel destinations are pretty well off the beaten path.

So anyway, I was looking forward to these DVDs to get a glimpse of some places I’m unlikely to get to myself any time soon. And the DVDs did that. I got to see some food and a few locals from each place. So I enjoyed these in a recreational kind of way.

I did think something was missing, however. I kept waiting for some advice on travel planning. Anthony Bourdain goes to the Ozarks and does all this stuff with the locals – he eats coon with them, he tries to spear suckers in the river at night, he shoots ducks and teaches the locals how to cook them, and so on. Now let’s say I wanted to do these things because I was planning to travel to the Ozarks. These DVDs would not help with my travel planning. Maybe you have to have your own travel show to hang out with so many locals. Maybe there’s a way to do it but we won’t find out from the DVDs.

So if you want to see what a place looks like, these DVDs are pretty good. If you want to plan a trip, the DVDs are not very helpful.

A few other notes – He curses a lot and they are all beeped out. I don’t love cursing (unless I’m watching the Sopranos), but I don’t mind it half as much as I hate the beeps. Is there a way to turn the beeps off? I couldn’t find it but DVD remotes befuddle me.

The focus is usually on talking with a prominent local and eating the local food. This is not always interesting for 45 minutes. the show on the Ozarks was interesting throughout, but the one on Cambodia talked to a politician who just wasn’t real interesting. Well she was a bit but their conversation wasn’t. And in Cambodia there were some spicy noodles – no surprise there. The happy pizza (think herbal pizza) was a funny Cambodian surprise though.

So to conclude, not good for travel planning but most of these places are not going to be tops on your list of vacation spots anyway. You can still watch for fun, of course, and while it’s not always tremendously entertaining, it is usually fairly entertaining.